Dolls that look like us: An Analysis of Latina Mothers Practicing Concerted Cultivation
February 19, 2017
Lauren Acosta, UC Davis sociology graduate student, interviewed 18 middle-class Latina mothers to explore the role of social identity in concerted cultivation. Her analysis of the dolls used by mothers to interact with their daughters found that mothers attempted to provide their daughters with dolls that encourage a social identity based on either a socially fluid group membership or an explicitly Latino group membership but mothers' intentions are sometimes frustrated by a limited doll market, peer/family pressures, and their daughters' doll preferences.
Research has overlooked the importance of social identity in concerted cultivation. Through analysis of eighteen ethnographic interviews with middle class Latina mothers in Austin, Texas and Sacramento, California, this study explores the role of social identity in concerted cultivation, offering a more complete understanding of how the racial, ethnic, and gender identities of both mothers and daughters interact with the social realities of their broader communities to affect the concerted cultivation process. Interviews focused on dolls, which Christine Williams (2006) identifies as objects used in parenting practices. This study reveals that mothers attempt to provide their daughters with dolls that encourage a social identity based on either a socially fluid group membership or an explicitly Latino group membership, tailoring their cultivation efforts according to their own racial, ethnic, and gendered identities, as well as those of their daughters. Mothers' efforts are often thwarted by a limited doll market, peer/family pressures, and their daughters' doll preferences, which often conflict with mother's desired doll characteristics. These findings highlight the need for more intersectional research on concerted cultivation, especially for mixed race individuals and immigrant groups.
Comments by Kristin McCarty, PhD Student, Sociology, UC Davis
Through analysis of original data, eighteen interviews with middle-class Latina mothers, this paper seeks to highlight the deficiencies in Annette Lareau's highly regarded concept of concerted cultivation. By situating herself nicely amongst existing research and theory, Acosta argues for a more intersectional approach to studying the intergenerational transmission of social class and social identity using cultural objects, namely "dolls that look like us."
Comments by Rachel Nickens, PhD Candidate, Sociology, UC Davis
In this promising paper, Acosta explores the attitudes that middle-class Latina mothers hold about dolls and their daughters' doll play. This paper asks how Latina mothers seek to foster advantageous social identities in their daughters through their parenting practices, or more specifically, how Latina mothers manage and think about their daughter's doll access. This provides a lens through which to explore how race, gender, and ethnicity interact in shaping parenting decisions.